New Economic Analysis of Law: Beyond Technocracy and Market Design

Frank Pasquale


This special issue on New Economic Analysis of Law features illuminating syntheses of social science and law. What would law and economics look like if macroeconomics were a concern of scholars now focused entirely on microeconomics? Do emerging online phenomena, such as algorithmic pricing and platform capitalism, promise to perfect economic theories of market equilibrium, or challenge their foundations? How did simplified economic models gain ideological power in policy circles, and how can they be improved or replaced? This issue highlights scholars whose work has made the legal academy more than an “importer” of ideas from other disciplines—and who have, instead, shown that rigorous legal analysis is fundamental to understanding economic affairs.

The essays in this issue should help ensure that policymakers’ turn to new economic thinking promotes inclusive prosperity. Listokin, Bayern, and Kwak have identified major aporias in popular applications of law and economics methods. Ranchordás, Stucke, and Ezrachi have demonstrated that technological fixes, ranging from digital ranking and rating systems to artificial intelligence-driven personal assistants, are unlikely to improve matters unless they are wisely regulated. McCluskey and Rahman offer a blueprint for democratic regulation, which shapes the economy in productive ways and alleviates structural inequalities. Taken as a whole, this issue of Critical Analysis of Law shows that legal thinkers are not merely importers of ideas and models from economics, but also active participants, with a great deal to contribute to social science research.

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